Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 Big Questions for Sunday's Game

Michael KimbleContributor IIINovember 20, 2011

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers: 5 Big Questions for Sunday's Game

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    This Sunday the 9-0 Packers will be defending their unblemished record against the 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that has some big wins and some crushing defeats.

    One of those bad losses was last week to Houston, where they fell 37-9, so the Bucs will be hoping to bounce back on Sunday by upsetting the Packers.

    The Packers are favored to win this game by a large margin, but an upset isn't out of the question.

    The Bucs pulled off a huge upset last time they played, when the 0-9 Bucs defeated the Packers, 38-28, in 2009. The Packers need to hope that this game goes better than that one did, which was, in many ways, an all-around disaster.

    Here are five big questions surrounding the Packers' Sunday matchup against their former division rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

5. Do the Bucs Have Green Bay's Number?

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    The Buccaneers have won the last three matchups against the Packers, and since 2001 are 5-2 against them. Aaron Rodgers hasn't played very well against the Bucs in the past, throwing three interceptions in both games.

    In fact, these are the only two games in his career that he has thrown for that many picks.

    Some teams seem to consistently beat other teams—like the Chargers against the Colts, or the Patriots against the Steelers, up until a couple weeks ago. The Buccaneers have played the Packers very well in the past decade, even when they had a terrible 0-9 record in 2009.

    Now, the Buccaneers are an improved team under Raheem Morris, and while they are 4-5 and on the brink of missing out on the playoffs, they are still a good team that should not be taken lightly, especially by the Packers, who have not enjoyed past success with this team.

4. Who Will Play More Inspired?

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    While every NFL team gives 100 percent for every game, this game has special meaning for both teams.

    The Bucs are in serious danger of getting eliminated from playoff contention, and a 4-6 record would almost essentially knock them out. They need to beat the Super Bowl champs to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

    If they lose this game, they will have to basically win out to give themselves a chance.

    The Packers don't forget what happened in 2009. In fact, several players have admitted how embarrassed they were by that loss, and they are looking to this game to get a bit of redemption.

    This game will not be a "trap game'" for the Packers—they know the history, and they know what happened two years ago—and this could actually work to their advantage.

    Both teams will give their best, but it will be interesting to see the intensity this game could provide between a team that is on the brink of its season being over, and a team that is looking for redemption after a bad loss in 2009.

3. Will the Packers Defense Force Turnovers on the Bucs Offense?

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    Josh Freeman is trailing only Philip Rivers in the interception column this season, a quarterback that the Packers picked off three times in their matchup earlier this season.

    While the Packers have been giving up a lot of yards, they are leading the league in turnovers, which could serve them well in this game, especially against a Buccaneers offense that has been prone to turnovers so far this season.

    Even if the Packers give up a lot of yards and a few points along the way, if they can turn the ball over and force Josh Freeman to throw an interception or two, they have a great shot of being 10-0 by the end of the game.

2. Can the Packers Defense Stop the Big Plays?

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    The Packers have been forcing turnovers, but they've had a hard time stopping the big plays giving up yardage as a result.

    They seemed to resolve some of their issues last week against the Vikings, but the Buccaneers will be a much greater challenge, despite the fact that Josh Freeman has been turning the ball over this year.

    The Bucs have weapons that can make big plays, including running back LaGarrette Blount and receiver Mike Williams, both of which had breakout years last year.

    The Packers will need to limit some of the Bucs' big playmakers if they want to avoid the upset. Hopefully Monday night's defensive performance will help the Packers defense turn things around, and hopefully, they can continue their success on Sunday.

1. Can the Bucs Stop Aaron Rodgers?

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    Aaron Rodgers hasn't had the most success against the Buccaneers.

    In fact, he has performed worse against the Buccaneers than any other team, failing to defeat them in two tries and tallying a total of six interceptions in those two games.

    However, Rodgers is performing at an incredibly high level, and hasn't had a bad game yet this year. It would be hard for the Bucs to stop Aaron Rodgers, especially considering that more superior defenses have already tried to stop him, and have failed.

    The Bucs defense has its playmakers, and they have had success against Rodgers in the past, but can they stop a quarterback who is having a career year, and has shown no signs of stopping?

    History might say that Rodgers could struggle on Sunday; however, recent events certainly do not indicate so.